A Los Angeles police officer has been sentenced to three years in jail for assaulting a woman who died shortly after a 2012 arrest that was caught on video.
In October. 2013, O’Callaghan was charged by Los Angeles County prosecutors with felony assault under color of authority in the 2012 arrest of 35-year-old Alesia Thomas. He denied a motion from the defense to place her on probation instead, according to the statement.
CNN affiliate KTLA has earlier reported that prosecutors didn’t charge O’Callaghan with manslaughter or murder because there was insufficient evidence to prove her conduct caused Thomas’ death.
The prosecutor said Thomas was “helpless in the back of that police car” and simply trying to sit up so she could breathe when O’Callaghan, frustrated in trying to retie the hobble, threatened to break Thomas’ arm, shoved her on the chest and throat and kicked her in her stomach and then her groin. She later died.
According to NBC Los Angeles, a coroner could not determine a cause of death, but cocaine intoxication played a “major” role and her interaction with the officers “could not be excluded”.
“Mother to mother, I am extremely sorry”, O’Callaghan said. The last 20 months of her sentence were suspended meaning she’ll likely spend a little more than a year in county jail.
The altercation began when officers went to Thomas’s home to investigate claims that she had abandoned her children.
LAPD Officer Mary O’Callaghan is seen during her assault trial. “Justice was served and now I feel normal about everything”, she said.
Mary O’Callaghan’s sentencing comes amid intense scrutiny and criticism nationwide of police use of force.
Outside the court Sandra Thomas said she was satisfied with judge’s ruling.
“That ain’t a good sign”, O’Callaghan said out loud in the video.
Rico told jurors that although the footage shows an “ugly” scene, his client’s use of force was “reasonable, justified and necessary”.
O’Callaghan did not testify during trial but broke her silence during Thursday’s hearing.
Rico said his client was called as backup to assist in getting the 6- foot-1-inch Thomas, who weighed 228 pounds, into the patrol auto.